Last week Slough Borough Council announced that, due to financial difficulties, it will be pausing non-essential spending. Like many of you, I was very concerned and disappointed when I heard this news and understand this will have caused anxiety for many Slough residents.
Like every council across our country, Slough Borough Council has experienced an unprecedented level of cuts over the past ten years at the hands of this Conservative Government, with funding to our council slashed by nearly 40% in real terms within the last 6 years alone.
Making this worse has undoubtedly been the financial impacts of the pandemic. A recent survey showed that around 1 in 8 senior council officers across the country said their own council was on track to issue their own section 114 notices. Our council has had the additional challenges that come from both being on the doorstep of the UK’s biggest airport, and the home to so many UK businesses. It’s something Slough can be proud of, but in Covid times, it’s created additional pressures on the council’s finances, especially as aviation has been particularly hard-hit and revenue has collapsed.
As well as these significant challenges, Slough Council’s new finance team has identified a number of additional issues going back many years which have come to light, causing all non-essential spending to be paused, and are now taking urgent action to improve the situation.
Since the news was announced, I have been meeting regularly with senior councillors and officers. They have reassured me that essential services will continue, including education, public health, and housing services. Our bins will still be collected, roads will be maintained and care will continue to be provided to our most vulnerable residents.
Although I have never been a Slough Councillor, I know that councillors and council officers always try their best to serve the local community. I also expect that the council’s approximately one billion pounds worth of assets place them in a strong position to recover from this situation more quickly than others could.
While services run by Slough Borough Council are not under my control as your Member of Parliament, I will continue to work with the council, as well as other important local organisations, including the police, NHS and support services, to ensure the very best for the good people of Slough.
In this challenging situation, I want to assure you that I will continue to fight for the very best possible outcomes for our town and its residents.